133. Who Needs Four Seasons?

I don’t! It’s May and still, in the 50’s, feels too close to winter. The 4 space campground in Lockport is very comfortable. There are no other campers. The soccer field behind is empty [on edit: tonight the pre teen rug rats came out for a 3 hour practice or game. Cars and pickups parked in the other RV spots and all over the lot including blocking me and my car in. Kids and parents walking alongside the rig and over electric hookup. Two moms standing next, right next, to my door talking. I opened the door and asked them for their addresses. Why? They asked. So I can go to your house and invade your back yard and block your porch. No doubt how the new generation will learn property and person respect. Not].

Everything is neatly mowed and tulips/daffodils are blooming. On the north side of the Erie Canal (the town is basically on the south side with ‘fingers’ of housing across the drawbridges to the north) the road (N Canal Rd) accessing and fronting the campground is not very busy, to say the least. [see above]? Indeed, the closest bridge to the campground over the canal is a single lane and on the south side of the Erie, that road goes under a railroad overpass with a clearance of only 10’ – not an access route for a motorhome or most other RVs. I took the route over the drawbridge downtown to the north side in order to access the park.

Besides that, it is quite chilly, covered in thick gray clouds, rainy, drizzly, and foggy till 11am and nothing touristy is open. The NY canal system, including the Erie Canal, doesn’t open for business until May 21. The canal cruises aren’t open yet. Nor are the caves, the underground boat ride, the zip line (I really wasn’t considering it) over the gorge and canal, or any historical exhibits of the building of the canal and the Flight of Five Locks. Of course the nearby US/Canadian border is closed so the traditional Canadian Niagara Falls views and Maid of the Mist are off limits. I’m staying two nights so I can sleep in a bit to compensate for the early shop hours at Cummins.

Nonetheless, as a former boater attempting America’s Great Loop, the canal was one of the options available (though not to me – insufficient vertical clearances) to get from the East Coast to the Great Lakes and eventually the Mississippi/TennTom back to the Gulf, and so it was of interest to me. Built with hand and mule labor over 8 yrs beginning in 1817, the Erie Canal measured 363 miles long and was so narrow that barges, 7-8’ wide, needed to navigate carefully when meeting each other. The canal has been enlarged several times over the years.

The present Erie Canal rises 566 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. The original “Clinton’s Ditch”/“Clinton’s Folly” Erie Canal had 83 locks. The enlarged Erie Canal, built between 1835 and 1862, saw this number reduced to 72 locks. Today, there are 35 numbered locks, with the 5 westernmost locks here in Lockport. The original 5 locks in Lockport were named the Flight of Five Locks. Those, no longer in use and now ungated, have reverted back to waterfalls and are situated alongside the current locks. The original cost of construction was $7million. Two of the five locks (34 & 35) create a lift/descent of 49’ between them.

Taken from the road bridge in downtown Lockport, one of the current locks on the right and to the left, a reconstructed original one of the Flight of Five. In the distance is the historic upside down deck truss railroad bridge.
Reconstructed one of the Flight of Five.
OK, folks, hang on as we take the boat over this little obstruction
Between the old and newer lock, a tribute to those who dug the canal so many years ago.
The gate holding back tons and tons of water.
And leaning over the bridge to picture the height of the gate from the empty adjoining lock. Winter work cleaning the gate is nearly finished. At the bottom, below the concrete which is the bottom of the tub, is the circular ‘drain’ from which water in the lock empties by flowing to a lower level or fills the lock by water flowing in from a higher level. Only did one lock of this height on the Okeechobee Waterway. The others were half this height.
A street view in town of the canal
No tours or cruises😟
In the distance is one of many road draw bridges which are manned and must be raised by an attendant to allow passage by all but the smallest boat. On a boat, it’s charm wears off quickly becoming a royal pain in the butt.
And less than a mile away, an unusual style lift bridge which is no longer in service but converted to pedestrian usage. With a maximum clearance of 16.5’ to low steel, this bridge pretty much eliminates most sailboats, unless demasted, and many power boats from passing. My boat would not get past.

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2 thoughts on “133. Who Needs Four Seasons?”

  1. Very interesting. I read the book “ the wedding of the waters” about the construction of the Erie Canal. I sent a copy of that book to my dad and he just finished reading it last week. An amazing accomplishment, building the canal that is. I guess given my dad’s condition a year ago, being able to read a book is quite an accomplishment for him too.


    1. It is an amazing accomplishment. Such vision was required and it accomplished so much in opening up the area to the west. And yes, your dad seems to be doing well though I never really hear.


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